Abbot t To Talk To Nauru On Re-Opening Camp

Abbott to talk to Nauru on reopening camp

By Yuko Narushima and Kirsty Needham
The Age (Melbourne), August 6, 2010

Tony Abbott will meet the president of Nauru today to demonstrate the Coalition's resolve to reinstate the ''Pacific solution''.

The Opposition Leader will have talks with President Marcus Stephen in Brisbane, where he will be joined by his deputy, Julie Bishop, and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison.

Mr Morrison is scheduled to fly to Nauru tomorrow to tour the decommissioned detention camp and inspect the island's port and utilities.

The trip is designed to cast asylum seekers as a prominent election issue as it dogs Labor in marginal electorates in western Sydney and Queensland. The Coalition has promised to send asylum seekers to Nauru and reduce the level of protection given to genuine refugees from permanent protection to a three-year visa.

Mr Morrison said the opposition was doing what the government would not do.

'While Labor continues to pretend to pursue their never- ever solution in East Timor, even after it has been rejected by their Parliament and would become a magnet for asylum seekers in our region, the Coalition is taking real action.''

Nauru was a ''proven solution for offshore processing'', he said.

The government has ruled out reopening the Nauru detention camps. Immigration Minister Chris Evans has said the Pacific solution merely delayed the resettlement of refugees.

Eventually, 70 per cent of people sent to Nauru and Manus Island under the former government's Pacific solution were resettled in Australia or other countries.

Yesterday, Tasmanian cancer sufferers formed the backdrop to a Coalition pledge for an $85 million health fund to buy urgent medical equipment to enhance treatment options.

At Devonport, Jill Almond's voice halted as she recalled the painful experience of her son, Darren Stephens, who travelled from Devonport to Launceston because the Burnie Hospital did not have a linear accelerator to treat his lung and bone cancer.

Mr Stephens, 40, died six months ago, leaving behind six children, plus a baby he was prolonging his life to see born.

''It's cruel,'' Mrs Almond said.

Another cancer sufferer, Eric Mobbs, said federal Labor had promised a linear accelerator to the north-west coast community in 2007 and state Liberal and Labor parties repeated the pledge on the election trail this year. But delivery has been pushed back until 2016. ''We've been played for dummies on the north-west coast for too long,'' Mr Mobbs said. ''Health is the issue this election.''

Across the table, Mr Abbott told them: ''You should not make commitments that you don't keep I don't say my own party is blameless, but the current mob have got the gold medal.''

He later announced that the $85 million fund's first grant of $7 million would deliver a linear accelerator to Burnie Hospital, citing the 700 people who travel to Launceston every year for cancer treatment.